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AMC Empire makes gross record with 'Reloaded'

In a neighborhood once home only to porno houses frequented by the trenchcoat-and-paper-bag clientele, the transformation of Gotham’s Broadway/42nd Street exhibition zone appears complete.

Recent evidence of the neighborhood’s dramatic turnaround include the AMC Empire’s ringing up $1 million for “The Matrix Reloaded” in the Warner Bros. sequel’s first 18 days.

“That’s unheard of,” Warners distrib prexy Dan Fellman enthuses. “No theater has ever grossed that much money that quickly.”

Its first Saturday in release, “Reloaded” took in a cool $115,000 at the Empire, the biggest single-day, single-venue gross ever recorded, exhib says.

The nearby Loews E-Walk also is going great guns, with a recent run by Universal’s “Bruce Almighty” outperforming pic’s top run in L.A.

Collectively, the 25-screen Empire, 13-screen E-Walk and the single-screen Loews Astor Plaza form an exhibition zone that routinely tops box office rankings.

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“It’s the No. 1 zone in the world by a substantial margin,” AMC spokesman Rick King says.

The Empire’s recent success with Disney’s family toon “Finding Nemo” reps further evidence of the zone’s rise in stature since the AMC megaplex joined Loews in the neighborhood three years ago.

Industryites once felt only action films could succeed in the zone.

In reality, even Sony art film “Adaptation” and Fox Searchlight’s specialty title “Bend It Like Beckham” have enjoyed robust runs at the Empire.